I don't think I've ever seen Bre Williams without a smile on her face. Her positive lifestyle and do-gooder perspective is down right contagious. And with her love for the water and a spirit full of adventure, she is a quintessential Free Fly ambassador. She can be often found bouncing back and forth between central Florida and Charleston, targeting redfish on fly with the good company of two curious golden retrievers, Skip and Ann, and the legendary South Carolina skiff builder, Wilds Drake. And, there is no doubt that Bre's life mission statement inspires us all: to end her days with tired dogs, messy hair, and big smiles.
So we recently caught up with her to learn more about her fly fishing journey, who are those crazy golden retrievers, and what she's bringing on the boat.
How did you get introduced into fly fishing?
For me, fly fishing was a natural progression after getting dialed in on sight fishing with a spinning rod. I wanted to learn something new and be challenged. I was fascinated by the art of fly fishing, but equally as intimated. After 2+ years of "perfecting" my fly cast in a horse pasture, and with some not so gentle nudges from the fine folks at El Pescador Belize, I caught my first fish on fly -- a 5lb bonefish cruising down a patch of mangroves in ankle deep water. That's where it all started.
What is it about fly fishing that keeps you coming back?
I love everything about it. I love the places it takes us and the like-minded folks we meet along the way. I love being immersed into the environment and seeing so many acts of nature that are just breathtaking -- backing and tailing redfish, dolphins feeding in shallow water, dozens of bird species out fishing us, deer wading across the river just ahead of you -- there is no limit to what can be seen on the water. Combine those surroundings with the pure joy and satisfaction felt when the hunt, cast, presentation, fly choice, and all the other elements come together perfectly resulting in an explosive eat -- THAT is what keeps me coming back for more. Plus.. no day on the water is ever the same.
What would you consider your home fishery and what do you find so special about it?
Mosquito Lagoon. It's a fly angler's paradise -- abundant with giant trout, black drum, tarpon, occasional snook, and a year-round population of redfish. Yes, the redfish are said to be born there and stay there their entire lives. I caught my very first redfish out of Mosquito Lagoon.
Alright... we have to know, where is your dream place to fish?
Whose been the most impactful person in your fly fishing journey?
I'm going to be lame here, but there are just too many wonderful souls that I've met in the fly fishing community, and I absolutely cannot narrow it down to just one.
What advice would you share to females who want to start fly fishing?
There are strokes of luck, and definitely some people who are just naturals, but for the general population I would say this -- expect to be challenged, expect moments of defeat, expect to be doubted, expect to be judged, and expect the rewards to be SO worth it! Never lose sight of what made you fall in love with fly fishing in the first place, and always be open to learning something new.
Fishing traditionally has been known as a boys club... how do we change this?
I feel like it's everybody's club now -- men, women, boys, girls, babies dogs... it's a beautiful thing.
How are you seeing the industry move away from the stereotype around fly fishing is a "sport for rich, old white men?"
The sport has certainly evolved and times have changed. There are still plenty of "rich old white men," but I do believe that social media has brought the attention of a wider audience (young, old, male, female, rich, broke) to the sport. Social media has helped show that fly fishing is anything but boring, and that you don't necessarily have to be "rich, old, and white" to participate. There are attributes of fly fishing that are attractive to all audiences.
What do you think the fly fishing industry needs more of?
Dogs. You can never have enough dogs.
What causes or non-profits are you following and supporting right now?
I recently listened to an interview with Oliver White on April Vokey's "Anchored" podcast, and his story is just mind-blowing. He spoke about the Indifly Foundation and I was instantly intrigued. Their mission: Use fly fishing as a tool for transforming lives of indigenous peoples and protecting valued environments. I would highly suggest giving them a follow and seeing what they're all about.
Funniest fishing story?
I landed my first (and only) permit on fly in Belize a few years ago. Just prior to successfully stalking, feeding, hooking, and landing that permit... I face planted into the water while exiting the panga. Soaked from head to toe, a little stunned, and just wanting to laugh at myself for a few minutes, Will Flack pulled me back into the reality that we were stalking a school of tailing permit. By some miracle, the permit were not spooked and we were able to catch up with them and seal the deal despite my no-to-graceful panga exit. I'll never live that one down.
When you're not fishing, what are you doing?
I do have a "real job" -- I'm a CPA and work for Verizon. If I'm not fly fishing or working, I'm taking care of my horses and my dog (Skip the Skiff Dog), camping, riding around in Wild Drake's old Jeep, and in an endless pursuit of finding and eating delicious food, and planning my next adventure.
What essentials are you taking out on the boat for a day of fishing?
At least one 8wt fly rod and reel, a handful of flies, a cooler full of La Colombre draft lattes and Modelo Especials, beef jerky, Clif Bars, camera, YETI Rambler jug of water (kick plastic), Free Fly apparel, a great attitude, an appetite for adventure. (wink*wink).